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Home ▸ Catalog ▸ Greek Coins ▸ Geographic - All Periods ▸ BritainView Options:  |  |  |   

Ancient Coins of Britain

Before the Roman invasion, Britain was populated by Celtic tribes with well-established cultural and economic links with continental Europe. Although Julius Caesar conducted the first Roman campaign in Britain in 55 B.C., the conquest did not begin until A.D. 43, during the reign of Claudius. The British tribes initially opposed the Roman legions, but by 84 the Romans had decisively conquered southern Britain and had pushed into what is now southern Scotland. In 122 they fortified the northern border with Hadrian's Wall, which spanned what is now Northern England. In 142 Roman forces pushed north again and began construction of the Antonine Wall, but they retreated back to Hadrian's Wall after only twenty years. Following the conquest, native Britons were subject to the Roman governors but mostly kept their land, and a distinctive Romano-British culture emerged. The Roman Empire retained control until its departure about A.D. 430.Romanization of Britain


Anglo-Gallic, Henry VI de Lancastre, King of France and England, 1422 - 1453

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In 1422, the year old king of England inherited the French throne through his mad grandfather Charles VI of France; the iconography of this type represents the unification of the two nations. Ten years later Joan of Arc would make an appearance which would eventually loosen the English grip on France until by 1436 only Normandy and part of Maine remained in Henry's control.
SH87710. Silver petit blanc, Elias 297a (R), Duplessy 446, Ciani 603, Lafaurie 450, SCBC-SII 8167, leopard mintmark, F, toned, bumps, scratches, crowded flan, weight 1.159 g, maximum diameter 21.7 mm, die axis 210o, Rouen mint, 1423 - 1449; obverse (leopard) HEN-RICVS: - REX (King Henry, triple pellet stop), shields of France (on left) and England (on right), side by side; reverse (leopard) SIT: nOmE: DnI: BEHEDICV' (Blessed be the name of the Lord, triple pellet stops), Latin cross, h left, R right; ex Gordon Andreas Singer, ex E.R. Duncan Elias Collection; rare; $600.00 (€510.00)
 


Anglo-Gallic, Henry VI de Lancastre, King of France and England, 1422 - 1453

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In 1422, the year old king of England inherited the French throne through his mad grandfather Charles VI of France; the iconography of this type represents the unification of the two nations. Ten years later Joan of Arc would make an appearance which would eventually loosen the English grip on France until by 1436 only Normandy and part of Maine remained in Henry's control.
UK87707. Silver grand blanc aux écus, Elias 287, SCBC-SII 8166, Ciani 602, Duplessy 445, Lafaurie 449, Poey d'Avant 3191; leopard mint mark, nice VF, centered on a crowded flan, toned, weight 3.128 g, maximum diameter 27.3 mm, die axis 135o, Rouen mint, 23 Nov 1422 - 1449; obverse (leopard left) FRANCORVm: ET: ANGLIE: REX (King of France and England, triple pellet stops), shields of France (on left) and England (on right), side by side, hERICVS above; reverse (leopard left) SIT: nOmEN: DnI: BENEDICV (Blessed be the name of the Lord, triple pellet stops), Latin cross, fleur-de-lis to left, leopard left on right, hERICVS below; $375.00 (€318.75)
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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In The Reign and Coinage of Carausius, Percy Webb wrote that for Carausius, "...the type Providentia appears with some twenty-four varieties of reverse legend, while the joint effect of obverse and reverse variations of legend and type is to produce upwards of eighty varieties of coins dedicated to that divinity."
RA73501. Billon antoninianus, RIC V-2 152 (R2) var. (PROVIDENTIA AVGGG), SRCV IV 13697 var. (same), Webb Carausius 178 var. (same), Bourne 33 var. (same), Hunter IV - (p. ccii), aVF/aF, well centered, green patina, near complete legends, nice portrait, corrosion, pit/flaw reverse left field, weight 3.282 g, maximum diameter 22.2 mm, die axis 0o, Londinium (London, England) mint, 292 - 293 A.D.; obverse IMP C CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse PROVIDEN AVGGG (the foresight of the three emperors), Providentia standing left with baton and cornucopia, globe at feet left, S - P across fields, MLXXI in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection, extremely rare, apparently unpublished, the only specimen known to Forum; $220.00 (€187.00)
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Hilaritas, the personification of rejoicing, is usually depicted as a matron, standing with a cornucopia in her left hand and a long palm frond on the ground in her right. Green branches were a sign of gladness and for special occasions, both public and private, it was the custom in ancient times to ornament streets, temples, gates, houses, and even entire cities, with branches and leaves of trees. This tradition carries on today in the form of wreaths and Christmas trees.
RA73255. Billon antoninianus, apparently unpublished, cf. RIC V-2 243 (R) (IMP C CARAVSIVS P AVG), Web Carausius 295 (same), SRCV IV -, Hunter IV -, Linchmere -, et al. -, aVF, broad flan, green patina, some legend weak, reverse off center and double struck, weight 4.098 g, maximum diameter 24.7 mm, die axis 180o, Camulodunum (Colchester, England) mint, c. 288 - 291; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, middle reign portrait type; reverse HILARITAS AVG, Hilaritas standing left, long palm frond in right hand, cornucopia in left hand, C in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; very rare; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Anglo-Gallic, Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Aquitaine, 1362 - 1372

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Edward of Woodstock (15 June 1330 - 8 June 1376), called the Black Prince, was the eldest son of King Edward III and Philippa of Hainault, and the father of King Richard II of England. He was the first Duke of Cornwall (from 1337), the Prince of Wales (from 1343) and the Prince of Aquitaine (1362-72). He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular in England during his lifetime. Edward died one year before his father, becoming the first English Prince of Wales not to become King of England. The throne passed instead to his son Richard II, a minor, upon the death of Edward III.
ME87706. Silver esterlin (sterling), Elias 192a (S), SCBC-SII 8133, Duplessy Féodales 1125A, Boudeau 511, Poey d'Avant –, F, centered, crowded flan (typical for type), uneven toning, clashed dies, light marks and scratches, weight 0.898 g, maximum diameter 18.9 mm, die axis 135o, Limoges mint, 2nd issue; obverse + : ED:PO:GIT·REG:An:L (Edwardus Primo Genetis Regis Anglie, Limoges, double annulet before legend, double rosette stops), half-length figure of Edward right, wearing floral wreath. sword in right hand over right shoulder, raising left hand in benediction; reverse : PRI-CPS - AQV-TAE (Prince of Aquitaine, double annulet before legend), long cross pattée, trefoil of three pellets in each quarter; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Anglo-Gallic, Edward the Black Prince, Prince of Aquitaine, 1355 - 1375

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Edward the Black Prince was the eldest son of King Edward III and the father of King Richard II of England. He was the first Duke of Cornwall (from 1337), the Prince of Wales (from 1343) and the Prince of Aquitaine (1362–72). He was an exceptional military leader, and his victories over the French at the Battles of Crécy and Poitiers made him very popular in England during his lifetime. In 1348 he was made a Founding Knight of the Garter. Edward died one year before his father, becoming the first English Prince of Wales not to become King of England. The throne passed instead to his son Richard II, a minor, upon the death of Edward III.
UK87708. Silver Hardi d'Argent, Elias 203a (S), SCBC-SII 8134, Duplessy Féodales 1126, Boudeau 513;, F, well centered, uneven toning, light deposits, weight 1.047 g, maximum diameter 20.4 mm, die axis 90o, Figéac mint, obverse ED PO GnS - REGS AGL F (Edwardvus, Primo Genitvs Regis Anglie - Edward, first born of the King of England, no stops), half-length figure of Edward facing beneath Gothic canopy, sword in right hand, raising left in benediction; reverse * PRn-CPS - AQT-AnIE (rosette before legend, Princeps Aqvitanie - Prince of Aquitaine), long cross pattée, lis in first and fourth quarters, leopard in second and third quarters; ex Gordon Andreas Singer; scarce; $180.00 (€153.00)
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Apparently unpublished and possibly unique. This type with the obverse legend IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG and a C mintmark is common. With this ...P AVG obverse legend it is rare. Regardless of the obverse legend, it is apparently unpublished with this MC mintmark and we do not know of any other specimens.
RA73254. Billon antoninianus, apparently unpublished, RIC V-2 200 (R) var. (C in ex.), Webb Carausius -, Hunter IV -, SRCV IV -, Linchmere -, Burton Latimer -, et al. -, VF, green patina, earthen encrustations, marks, edge crack, small patina chips, weight 3.815 g, maximum diameter 21.9 mm, die axis 0o, Camulodunum (Colchester, England) mint, c. 287 A.D.; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right, early reign moustache portrait; reverse COMES AVG (companion of the Emperor), Victory standing left, raising wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand, nothing in fields, MC in exergue; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; possibly unique!; $140.00 (€119.00)
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Victoria or Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory, personifies victory. She was described variously in different myths as the daughter of the Titan Pallas and the goddess Styx, and the sister of Kratos (Strength), Bia (Force), and Zelus (Zeal). Nike and her siblings were close companions of Zeus. According to classical (later) myth, Styx brought them to Zeus when the god was assembling allies for the Titan War. Nike assumed the role of the divine charioteer, a role in which she often is portrayed in Classical Greek art. Nike flew around battlefields rewarding the victors with glory and fame, symbolized by a wreath of laurel leaves.
RA73477. Billon antoninianus, cf. RIC V-2 15 (R, ML in ex.), 199 (R, C in ex.), 750 (R2, nothing in ex.); Hunter IV 62 (nothing in ex.); SRCV IV 13559 (C in ex.), VF, nice portrait, green patina, tight flan, scratches, light corrosion, weight 2.594 g, maximum diameter 19.9 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain British mint, 287 - 293 A.D.; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse COMES AVG (companion of the Emperor), Victory standing left, raising wreath in right hand, palm frond in left hand, fields blank, exergue of flan; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; rare; $125.00 (€106.25)
 


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Mars, the god of war, and Virtus, the personification of courage and valor, are sometimes confused in coin descriptions. Mars is male and usually nude. Virtus is female and is never nude.
RA73247. Billon antoninianus, apparently unpublished; RIC V-2 1034 var. (legends), Webb Carausius 1180 var. (obv. legend), Burton Latimer -, Carausian Hoard -, Bicester -, F, nice green patina, slight bend in coin, corrosion, weight 4.222 g, maximum diameter 24.3 mm, die axis 0o, uncertain British mint, c. 290 - summer 293 A.D.; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P F AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS AVG (the valor of the Emperor), Mars walking right, helmeted, nude but for cloak on his shoulders and flying behind, transverse spear in right hand, trophy across shoulder in left hand; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; extremely rare; $120.00 (€102.00)


Romano-British Empire, Carausius, Mid 286 - Spring or Early Summer 293 A.D.

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Virtus was a specific virtue in ancient Rome. It carried connotations of valor, manliness, excellence, courage, character, and worth, perceived as masculine strengths (from Latin vir, "man"). Virtus applied exclusively to a man's behavior in the public sphere, that is to the application of duty to the res publica in the cursus honorum. Private business was no place to earn virtus, even when it involved courage or feats of arms or other good qualities. There could be no virtue in exploiting one's manliness in the pursuit of personal wealth, for example. It was thus a frequently stated virtue of Roman emperors and was personified as the deity Virtus.
RA73256. Billon antoninianus, Webb Carausius 1172, RIC V-2 1040 (R), Hunter IV -, SRCV IV -, Burton Latimer -, Bicester -, F, green patina, obverse slightly off center, earthen deposits, scratches, weight 2.586 g, maximum diameter 20.8 mm, die axis 225o, unmarked mint, c. mid 286 - 287; obverse IMP CARAVSIVS P AVG, radiate, draped, and cuirassed bust right; reverse VIRTVS AVG (courage of the Emperor), Virtus (or Mars) standing right, helmeted and draped, spear vertical in left hand, right hand resting on large grounded shield, no mint marks; from the Charles Peters Carausius Collection; rare; $120.00 (€102.00)
 




  



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REFERENCES

Allen, D. Catalogue of Celtic Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1987-1990).
Allen, D. The Coins of the Ancient Celts. (Edinburgh, 1980).
Coins of England & the United Kingdom, Standard Catalogue of British Coins. (London, -).
Cottam, E., et al. Ancient British Coins. (Chris Rudd, Norfolk, UK, 2010).
de Jersey, P. Celtic Coinage in Britain. (London, 1996).
de la Tour, H. Atlas de monnaies Gauloises. (Paris, 1892).
Hobbs, R. British Iron Age Coins in the British Museum. (London, 1996).
Nash, D. Coinage in the Celtic World. (London, 1987).
Sear, D. Greek Coins and Their Values, Vol. 1: Europe. (London, 1978).
Sills, J. Gaulish and Early British Gold Coinage. (London, 2003).
Van Arsdell, R. Celtic Coinage of Britain. (London, 1989).


Catalog current as of Wednesday, November 21, 2018.
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Britain